Rik Wright's Fundamental Forces: Green

Jack Gold-Molina By

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Rik Wright is a Seattle based guitarist inclined toward the styles of the fusion-esque rock of Andy Summers and John Abercrombie as much as the post bop stylings of Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. On this album, as with his previous two outings, he teams up with reeds and flautist James DeJoie, acoustic bassist Geoff Harper, and drummer/percussionist Greg Campbell.

From the opening phrases of the first tune, "Contradiction," the band demonstrates its intensity and ability to blow hard, but also that it can engage in dynamic conversation. The rhythmic undercurrent generated by Harper and Campbell ranges in style from "Space Truckin'" meets the jazz stratosphere, riffs played sparingly, to a kind of folkloric African feel with Harper improvising within the pocket at will.

DeJoie's tune "Alicia's Waltz," written for his wife, accomplished violinist Alicia DeJoie, is slow and atmospheric. The track opens without time, DeJoie playing a theme on the flute. A slow tune in three, Campbell's brush work is outstanding, and DeJoie solos expressionistically over Harper and Wright. In contrast, "Harmonic Tremor" has a mid-tempo rock feel—Bitches Brew meets early James Brown. As DeJoie solos on baritone saxophone, Wright creates guitar feedback from chordal undertones leading into a drum solo by Campbell. The intensity drops, then Wright takes over. His chops come to the fore, and his picking fluidity combined with tasty phrasing demonstrate his uncompromising ability as a modern-era guitarist in the jazz world.

On "Overcast," Harper does characteristically fine work of laying down a solid vamp as the rest of the players improvise against each other. "Wanderous" is strong, with leanings toward jazz, rock and fusion. In that context it has the rare element of a clarinet as the lead instrument, and DeJoie shines, soloing with fluidity, velocity, and musicality. The time drops out completely, Campbell playing bells as the tune becomes static, Harper finally bringing back in a vamp as it begins to take shape again.

Wright's soloing is often reminiscent of English blues melding with Middle Eastern feel and tone. In jazz, this is a rare thing and not easily accomplished. The band gives the sense that they have been playing together for a while, and they have. They formed in 2011, releasing their debut CD Blue on the HipSync label in 2013. Since then they have played festivals, music series, and club dates throughout the Puget Sound area and the Pacific Northwest, as far north as Vancouver, B.C.

Sources: rikwright.com; rikwright.bandcamp.com; facebook.com/rikwrightguitar.

Track Listing: Contradiction; Sugar Crash; Patience; Harmonic Tremor; Alicia's Waltz; Wanderous; Sunrise Pixels; Overcast

Personnel: Rik Wright: guitar; James DeJoie: alto & baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute; Geoff Harper: bass; Greg Campbell: drums, percussion

Title: Green | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: HipSync Records

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